Beckford's Estate 3943

Bath, England

Brief Description

This record refers to an estate which is now fragmented. The master record is intended as a means of linking the scattered sites which were once part of the whole. Scattered remnants of Beckford's estate remain today in the mile and a half stretch from Lansdown Crescent to Beckford's Tower on the summit of Lansdown Hill.

History

William Beckford moved to Bath in 1822 when his business fortunes declined and he was no longer able to maintain his estate at Fonthill. He lived in Bath until his death in 1844.

Visitor Facilities

Some parts of the estate, such as the Tower, are now open to the public. http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk/?id=9 More information

Detailed Description

Scattered remnants of Beckford's estate remain today in the mile and a half stretch from Lansdown Crescent to Beckford's Tower on the summit of Lansdown Hill. Beckford's area of pasture and arable between the site of the kitchen garden and Lansdown Wood is now occupied by private housing and Kingswood School (built in 1855).

More recently, part of the area of the plateau above the woods and the site of the old quarries has gained additional housing. The Dyke Garden has also been built on. To the west of these housing developments, however, there is still much open grassland. The features of Beckford's Estate which do survive are in reasonable condition.

Features
  • Tree Avenue
  • Description: This feature is an avenue of limes. In order to carry out his landscaping Beckford obtained permission to close some of the footpaths in the area. He did, however, provide a 12-foot wide gravelled walk on the west side of Lansdown Road. He planted an avenue of trees along the walk, 21 of which survive.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

Some parts of the estate, such as the Tower, are now open to the public. http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk/?id=9
Authorities

Electoral Ward

  • Lansdown
History

Detailed History

William Beckford was an eccentric 18th century merchant, and the author of ‘Vathek'. He inherited great wealth and derived a substantial income from sugar plantations in Jamaica. In 1796 he started to build his Gothic extravaganza Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire. He moved to Bath in 1822 when his business fortunes declined and he was no longer able to maintain Fonthill. He lived in Bath until his death in 1844.

He initially bought no. 20 Lansdown Crescent and no. 1 Lansdown Place West. These were separated by the lane leading to Upper Lansdown Mews. Beckford joined the two properties with a bridge which he used to house part of his library. About ten years later he sold the Lansdown Place West house and in 1836 he bought nos. 18 and 19 in the Crescent.

Beckford brought with him from Fonthill his head gardener, Vincent. The two of them set about Beckford's extensive scheme of landscaping Lansdown Hill, which stretched up behind the Crescent. When Beckford moved to the Crescent the hillside consisted of rough pasture, arable land and quarries. Beckford and Vincent transformed it into gardens, orchards, plantations, copses and fields. Running through it was a private walk from the house to the tower which Beckford built at the top.

On his death the estate was divided up and sold. The gardens became pleasure grounds for the residents of Lansdown.

Associated People

Just one person associated to Beckford's Estate

References

References